Ruth 3 (7)
Opening Prayer: Psalm 116.1-6
I love the LORD, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!”
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
The LORD preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Sing Psalm 116.1-6
(Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God Who Reigns Above)
I love the Lord because He hears my cries and pleas for mercy.
Because He bends to me His ears, my prayers shall ever thus be.
The snares of death encompassed me; hell’s grip could not unloosened be;
distress and anguish pressed me.
I called to God, “O Lord, I pray, my soul redeem with favor!”
The Lord is gracious in His way, and righteous is our Savior.
His mercy to the simple flies; He lifted me up to the skies –
I rest in Him forever!
Read Ruth 3; meditate on verses 1-3
1. What kind of “rest” (“security”, v. 1) was Naomi seeking for Ruth?
2. What did Ruth have to do to prepare to receive that rest?
Ruth 3 begins and ends with the idea of “rest.” Two different Hebrew words are used, and together they help us understand the meaning of this important idea.
The first word is in verse 1: מָנוֹחַ manoach describes a state of rest or the condition of being at rest. Naomi was seeking such a condition for Ruth, who had brought such rest to her by the love she showed and the work she endured to provide for them both. The rest (“security”, NKJV) Naomi sought for Ruth would be characterized in all aspects by the goodness of the Lord (v. 1, “be well with you”).
The second word, שָׁקַט shachat, means to “be quiet” or “undisturbed.” The use of this in verse 18 illuminates the idea of rest from a different angle, as Naomi explained that Boaz would not be quiet or undisturbed until he had carried out all that he promised. Only after he had done what he said would Boaz find the rest of quietness and an undisturbed life.
Now here’s what most fascinates me about this idea, so prominent in chapter 3: It was necessary for Ruth to work if she would realize the rest Naomi wished for her. She had to do certain things to put herself in position to receive her rest. In the same way, Boaz must work to reach that state of quiet and peace he intends for himself and Ruth together.
Like God, Who worked to create the heavens and the earth in six days, and rested on the seventh, we must enter the rest of the Lord through the work God has appointed for us. The people of Israel, who refused to go to war against the peoples of Canaan, failed to enter God’s rest by being unwilling to take up the work that condition required (Heb. 3.7-11). The rest of God remains for those who, partaking of Jesus Christ and holding fast their confidence in Him, faithfully carry out all that the Gospel requires of them in obedience to the Lord (Heb. 4.1-7; 6.9-12).
The marriage of Boaz and Ruth – the state of “rest” each was seeking – offers a picture of the rest promised to all who believe in Jesus and follow Him.
A rest remains for all who believe and are faithful like Ruth and Boaz. But we must wait for that rest through faithful works of obedience according to the holy and righteous and good Law of God (Rom. 7.12). Our waiting for the Lord’s rest will thus be characterized by doing the good works for which the Lord has redeemed us and saved us (Eph. 2.10).
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
In preparation for Ruth’s meeting with Boaz, we hear Naomi giving her some helpful hints, yes, about hygiene, but mostly about showing respect. Wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best garment (v. 3).
Amazingly, we didn’t have to “clean up our act” when we first met Jesus. He loved us anyway. But now that we know Him, it shows Him respect when we wash and anoint ourselves and put on our best garments.
In other words, that we keep ourselves clean from sin: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Ps. 51.2). “…wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22.16)
That we anoint ourselves with the fragrance of Christ: “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life” (2 Cor. 2.15, 16).
And that we are clothed in righteousness: “‘He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels’” (Rev. 3.5).
These behaviors don’t get us saved; but they are purposeful and respectful actions that show Jesus how very much we want to please Him. And He says to us in return, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11.28).
Clean. Anointed. And dressed. Ready for the rest.
1. Why is “rest” such a good way of thinking about our relationship with God through Jesus?
2. What can we learn from Naomi’s instructions to Ruth about how we should relate to our Lord Jesus?
3. How would you explain the relationship between work and rest to a new believer?
The married state should be a rest, as much as any thing upon earth can be so, as it ought to fix the affection and form a connection for life. Therefore it should be engaged in with great seriousness, with earnest prayers for direction, for the blessing of God, and with regard to his precepts. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Ruth 3.1-5
Lord, I do not obey you so that I might be saved, but because I am saved, and I truly desire to enter Your rest. Help me today, in grateful anticipation of Your rest, to…
Closing Prayer: Psalm 116.7-19
Renew your commitment to the Lord, praying over every area of your life that you will be a living sacrifice to Him and know the joy of His rest and all His goodness.
Sing Psalm 116.7-19
(Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God Who Reigns Above)
Full well the Lord has dealt with me; my soul from death He delivered.
My weeping eyes, my stumbling feet, He has redeemed forever.
Forever I before His face shall walk with those who know His grace,
and dwell with them forever.
Afflicted, I believe His Word, though lying men would undo me.
What shall I render to the Lord for all His blessings to me?
Salvation’s cup I lift above and call upon the God of love
and pay my vows most truly.
How sweet to Him when saints depart – save me, Your servant, Savior!
From sin You loosed my wand’ring heart; I praise Your Name forever!
On You I call, my vows to pay; here in Your presence I would stay
Your praise to offer ever.
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-2 Samuel: Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV, John R. Franke, ed, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).